In a somber announcement, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center conveyed the passing of Arlene Howard, the esteemed wife of Yankees legend Elston Howard. The social media post expressed profound sorrow, describing Arlene as a recipient of the Carmen Berra Award and a truly gracious, kind, and incredible person. The Museum extends its heartfelt condolences to the Howard family, emphasizing the privilege of knowing such an extraordinary individual.
Elston Gene Howard, a revered figure in American baseball, enjoyed a distinguished career spanning 14 years, notably with the New York Yankees. As a versatile player in left field and catcher, he made significant contributions to Major League Baseball from 1948 to 1968, including stints with the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues. A twelve-time All-Star, Howard transitioned to the coaching staff of the Yankees from 1969 to 1979 after his playing days.
Breaking barriers eight years after Jackie Robinson’s historic debut in 1947, Elston Howard became the Yankees’ first African American player in 1955. His remarkable achievements included being named the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the 1963 pennant winners, a groundbreaking moment as the first black player to receive the prestigious award.
In 1964, Howard set records for putouts and total chances in a season in the American League, earning Gold Glove Awards for his exceptional skills. His legacy endured with a major league record-setting overall fielding percentage of .993 as a catcher from 1967 to 1973. Howard retired among the AL career leaders in putouts (7th, 6,447) and total chances (9th, 6,977).
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Travis Howard and Emaline Hill, Elston Howard’s early life saw athletic prowess at Vashon High School. Arlene Howard’s passing leaves a void in the baseball community, and details of her obituary and funeral arrangements will be shared by the family in due course, allowing friends, fans, and the sports world to pay their respects to a remarkable woman who shared in the legacy of a baseball icon.